Wednesday, September 30, 2015
What Its All About
Christianity is tied to one central object, and one alone. That object is Christ. It is not love or kindness or being nice or giving. Please don't mistake me (and if you know me at all you probably won't): those things are all extremely important, non-negotiable, huge parts of what Christ called us to be. They are not, however, what make up the central tenet of Christianity. And we need to be careful we do not worship the call over the Caller.
"Love is patient, love is kind..."
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
These are all fairly well-known verses in the Bible. They speak of some of the central callings of the Christian. We are called to be all these things and more. We are called to give, to help the poor, to defend the weak, to encourage the brethren, to show mercy and pity, to love our neighbor, to be good, to show hospitality, and many other things.
But they are not what Christianity itself is about.
Because Christianity is about Christ. That's why it is called Christianity. That's why we are called Christ-followers. Please allow me to explain.
If we call ourselves Christians, but have none of those items above, I am not convinced that "Christian" is the right term for us. They show what it means to follow Christ. We cannot follow Him without love, we cannot follow Him without aiding our fellow man, we cannot follow Him without doing what He did. It just doesn't work. I cannot follow someone and then choose to not do what they said or live how they lived (or at least try my best to).
Hebrews 12:1-2 says "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
This is what I mean when I say Christianity is not about being nice, love, kindness, etc, but Christ.
Being a Christian requires those things, but it is not about those things. They are important and non-negotiable, but they are not the hub of the wheel. Jesus is.
The Hebrew writer makes it clear: we are to lay aside every weight (those things which hinder us), put away sin and run the race. We run that race by following in Jesus' footsteps. We follow His footsteps by loving our neighbor, by helping the poor, by encouraging the downtrodden, by showing kindness and mercy to all regardless of who they are or what they've done, etc.
But those are things that we do. They are not the things that we look to. They are not the things that we follow. We look to and follow Jesus, and none other.
Because Jesus is the only one that can save us. Without Him, everything else loses meaning. It is because of Jesus that everything else has a purpose. I cannot work my way into Heaven, I have to come through Jesus.
Want to know how big a deal love is?
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." I John 4:7-8.
If you don't have love, you don't know God. That's pretty clear. Love cannot be separated from Christianity. It is completely entwined within it.
But want to know the greater purpose of love?
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." I John 4:9-11
It is time we took the Word of God seriously about the calling He has called us to. To be there for the weak, to aid each other, and to love. Because He loved us first, and because He calls us to follow in His footsteps.
So let us follow. Not in the (relatively) weaker elements of the calling, but the greater One. The Hub.
Let us follow the Caller Himself.